6. Intercrop Intercrop
Intercropping can be profitable. Short durational crops (45-60 days) can be planted between rows of plants. However, intercropping is only possible during early stage of the plantation.
7. Special Operations Special Operations
The following practices would directly affect the productivity and quality of the Banana plants.
i) Desuckering / Pruning
One mother plant and two followers. Keeping too many sucking plants will reduce yields. It is advisable to remove all suckers once the desired followers have been selected. An age interval of 2 months between the mother plant and subsequently each of the followers is most desirable as these followers will become your main stem after the mother plant fruits. The most effective method to permanently remove unwanted suckers is to cut the stem off the ground and then cut into the centre of the plant. This should kill the sucker.
The alternative of pruning is propagation of bananas. Instead of destroying the suckers, suckers can be removed from the clump and replanting it in a newly cultivated land. Large suckers called the “sword sucker” are the preferred planting material. When removing the suckers, it must be cut into the mother plant enough to unearth some roots. Leaves are often removed in the process for easy transportation and re-planting. These suckers must be re-planted within a day or two and should not be exposed to the sun. Otherwise the roots may dry up.
Remove the “Bell” (the purple flower petals at the end of the bunch – also known as “banana blossom” or “banana heart“). This is generally practiced because this way, Banana plant will conserve its energy into growing bigger bunch and not longer stalk.
iv) Pruning of leaves
Old leaves and infected leaves should be pruned regularly. This will reduce the likelihood of leaf diseases and keeps the plantation tidy. Furthermore, it provides natural mulch to the Banana plants.
v) Earthing up
Soil level should be raised after 3 months of planting to keep soil loose. This will also help prevent Banana plants from falling due to severe wind.
vi) Removal of female hands
Remove the last one (1) to two (2) hands of the bunch. Banana growers often remove the bottom female hands so that the remaining hands grow bigger as it facilitates fruit development and increases bunch weigh.
vii) Bunch Covering
Bunch covering increases the weigh and enhances quality of fruit. Traditionally, Banana growers protect the bunch from sunburn by placing dry leaves on the top hand of the bunch but this is not practical during rainy season and can be time consuming. Commercial growers however, use blue plastic sleeves. This practice is to protect Banans from insects, sunburn, diseases, spray residue, dust and birds. Covering the Banana bunch increases the temperature within which helps in early maturity.
Support Banana plants with bamboos. Banana plants often go off balance due to the heavy weight of the bunch. Therefore, two (2) bamboos should be propped by placing one (1) against the top of the bunch and the other against the stem on the leaning side. Propping using only one (1) bamboo is not advisable as the Banana plant may plunge to the other direction during strong wind.
8. Pest and Disease Management Pest and disease management
Bananas are prompt to viral diseases, fungal diseases and pest thereby reduces production, quality and yield. The following table shows the major pest and diseases that Banana growers should be wary of.
|Pest||Viral Diseases||Fungal Diseases|
|Aphids (Pentalonia nigronervosa)||Banana Bunchy Top Virus||Head rot (Erwinia carotovora)|
|Fruit scarring battle (Besilepta subcostatum)||Banana Bract Mosaic Virus||Panama wilt (Furarium oxysporium)|
|Nematodes||Banana Mosaic Virus||Sigatoka leaf spot (Mycospharella spp)|
|Pseudostem weevil (Odaiporous longicolis)||Banana Streak Virus||-|
|Rhizome weevil (Cosmopolites Sordidus||-||-|
|Thrips (Chaetanaphotrips & signipennis & Heliaothrips kodaliphilus)||-||-|
Kampong Parit Raja,
(22 Muharam 1435H)